Never Say Never. We’ve all heard that adage a million times and why is that? Because so often when one says 'I will never ….' somewhere down the road those words come back to haunt us. Things change and it’s so easy to do that thing we said we would never do. If I said it once, I’ve said it one hundred times …. 'I will never have an artificial Christmas tree. It goes against my grain. I love the smell of a freshly cut evergreen in the house. blah, blah, blah'  Alas, my own words have come back to haunt me.

For my entire life, some of my best memories are the annual trek to the Christmas tree lot strung with holiday lights to choose the perfect tree. We never went to a tree farm with hack saw to cut down a fresh tree. Although, there was that one Christmas back in 1965 when my mother thought it was a great idea to trim the top of the blue spruce pine situated at the corner of our house for our tree that year. So on a cold December day (ya see, December was always a bitterly cold and snowy month on the calendar before global warming), the four of us kids and my Mom watched Dad as he sawed and sawed and sawed to slice through the trunk of the tree. We were all so excited as Dad dragged the tree to the back door of the house. And that’s as far as he got with that tree as there was no way it would fit through the door. We all had a good laugh except Dad who never thought cutting that tree was a good idea in the first place. Dad was right! That was the day we all learned that in the expanse of the outdoors, things look a lot smaller. But I digress.

Every December my husband and I do the trek to the nursery to spend a small fortune for a tree, throw it in the back of the truck, lug it up the stairs and through the house to the perfect spot in front of the french doors. Every year as I look at the trail of pine needles, I say ‘I can see why people buy an artificial tree; no needles, no mess, no cleanup, no watering, no lugging up the stairs.’  Well, this year is different because the day after we purchased our tree last year, we went online to purchase an artificial tree. I cannot believe I’m even saying artificial tree!   By the way, it’s the best time to buy as all trees were 50% off at Balsam Hill. So, this is the first year with our new tree. We are so happy we went this route and even up close, the tree looks real and best of all … no needles, no mess, no cleanup, no watering. Never Say Never!

This is a simple holiday cocktail. After all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking and baking, kick your feet up and sip on a no-fuss, delightful libation. Sit back and admire your Christmas tree.

Holly Berry Cocktail
Cranberry Juice
Whole Cranberries (optional)

Pour Cranberry Juice into a flute glass, filling halfway. Fill remainder of glass with Champagne.
Garnish with Cranberries.


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Every year I plan to start my holiday baking in October so there is plenty of time before December arrives to upload Christmas cookies to the blog. Well, maybe next year!  It’s mid-December and no holiday cookies. I’ve rolled out a couple of designs but haven’t had time to decorate them. It’s been a busy season with birthday parties and travel. So lookie here at all my holiday cookies going back five years ago to my first blog Christmas. I’m also including some very easy drop cookies and more which can be baked any time of the year and whipped up in an afternoon. New subscribers may enjoy reading the accompanying anecdotes while  long-time subscribers may enjoy a re-read. How is your holiday baking coming along?


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My first trip to Florida was a road trip with 5 of us girls on spring break in my junior year of college. We departed from Washington DC in the evening and drove through the night for the 20-hour trip to Ft. Lauderdale. I cringe to think of how much second-hand smoke was inhaled by me as the only non-smoker, as there was at least one gal lit up during the 40-hour round trip. As we headed due south in Jill’s orange, Chevy Malibu with Georgia tags, the drive seemed endless. I could name the ’77 radio tunes and artists we heard repeatedly throughout the drive but I will spare you. OK… your curiosity must be getting to you, so I’ll name just one that must have played at least twice an hour …You’re a Rich Girl by Hall & Oates. Needless to say, none of us could relate to that song as no one at my college was rich. Rather, the lyrics are about the newspaper heiress, Patty Hearst.

Shortly after midday we arrived at our destination, a tiny motel room one block from the beach. We were not extreme partiers so we stayed out of trouble and hung out with other classmates who made the trip that spring. Although, we did overdose on the southern sun. We all took to bed one day with the chills from our awful sunburns. Sunblock ... no one used it back then. On the way home we stopped at DisneyWorld for a day before completing the drive back to campus. The collegial rite of passage spending spring break in Lauderdale was a standout memory for us all.

My College Buddies and Me (on the right)

These housewarming cookies were made for my brother who now lives in the sunshine state. Ah … no snow, no cold, just sun, heat and plenty of golf. Although I swoon over the beautiful palm trees, I don’t know if I could live in Florida but it sure is a nice place to visit. Since I was flying with these cookies on a recent trip to see my bro’s new digs, I kept the design very simple. These house cookies airbrushed and stenciled in brightly colored palm leaves represent the simple beauty of our most southern state. I made a few in the United States cookie cutter with the intention of marking Central Florida on the cookie, but the designer of this cutter doesn’t know his geography. The State of Texas is larger and situated further south than Florida and skimps on the Floridian peninsula. 

Housewarming Cookies
House Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Rose with AmeriColor Deep Pink and Wilton Brown
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Air Brush Kit or Wilton Color Mist
AmeriColor Airbrush Colors (Deep Pink, Avocado, Violet, Sky Blue)
Palms Stencil

Outline and flood cookie with #2 tip in rose icing.

Let dry overnight.

Place stencil on the cookie. Spray with various airbrush colors. 

Gently lift stencil. Let dry 30 minutes.



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